How To Grow Turf Grass

By Isaiah David

golfer swings on grass
Turf grass typically fades into the background, providing a layout for golf or a playing surface for the front yard. For golfers wanting to practice at home, having well grown and maintained turf grass is essential for recreating the fairways and greens of your favorite golf course.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

  1. Determine your climate zone. The United States is divided into four primary climate zones: the cool/humid zone, the cool/arid zone, the warm/humid zone and the warm/arid Zone. The cool/humid zone comprises Oregon, Washington, the northern part of the California coast, the Midwest and the Northeast. The cool/arid zone comprises most of the western United States east of the coastal mountains. The warm/arid zone consists of the coastal region of Northern California southwest through Texas. The warm/humid zone encompasses the southern United States from the eastern part of Texas through Florida, the Carolinas and the edge of Virginia.
  2. Pick a species that grows well in your climate zone. Cool-season grasses such as bluegrass, rye grass and fescue grow well in the cool/humid zone. Buffalo grass, which is drought-resistant, is popular in the cool/arid zone, as are the aforementioned cool-season grasses. Bermuda grass is popular in the warm/humid zone. Zoysia grass, Bahia grass, carpet grass and St. Augustine grass are all popular in both the warm/humid and warm/arid zones. Red fescue in cool regions and St. Augustine grass in warmer climates tolerate shade well, so they should be used in areas without a lot of sun. If you are unsure which strain to grow, get a bag of mixed seeds designed for your climate zone. The grass seeds that are best-suited to your lawn or golf course will out compete the others.
  3. Prepare the site. Remove rocks, stumps and other debris from the soil, as well as weeds. Till the top 4 inches of soil. Grade the soil so that it slopes away from buildings. Apply lawn fertilizer to the soil.
  4. Plant your turf grass. If you are growing a warm-season grass, apply the seeds in the spring. For a cool-season grass, sow toward the end of the summer or near the beginning of fall. Apply the seed in whatever density the bag recommends and gently rake soil on top of it.
  5. Water your grass. According to the U.S. National Arboretum, turf grasses require between 1 and 1 1/2 inches of water per week including rainfall. The environment and variety of grass will affect the amount of water required. Keep your soil moist when the turf grass is starting to germinate.
  6. Add nitrogen fertilizer to your grass according to the recommendations on the bag of grass seed you used. The National Arboretum recommends that you only add fertilizer during the growing season. Cool-season grasses grow for a shorter period than warm-season grasses, so they generally require less fertilizer.


Once your turf grass is growing it must be maintained. Regularly water the grass, cover any bare spots with extra seed, and be sure and keep the grass closely cropped. Putting greens need to be maintained at about .12 - .165 inches. Fairways should range from .45 - .75 inches to recreate an authentic golf course.

How to Plant Grass Under Pine Trees

Many golf courses, especially those in the South, contain several pine trees, which add a great deal of beauty. One of the problems with pine trees, however, is that grass often refuses to grow beneath the trees.

Many people believe that grass won't grow under pine trees because of the shade of the tree. They next plant a grass that grows well in the shade, thinking their problems will be solved. They are, however, mistaken. Grass won't grow well under many types of pines due to the acidity that pines add to the soil. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this problem.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

  1. Rake all pine needles and remove them from beneath the tree. Pine needles are a prime source of acid that is killing your grass and destroying the look of your course.
  2. Rototill the soil around the base of your pine, including all of the area where grass refuses to grow or grows only sparingly. Use caution, as your rototiller will probably encounter roots from the pine growing close to the surface of the soil. Smaller roots may be cut (and the pieces removed by hand), but larger roots should be left intact.
  3. Put on gloves and a breathing mask. Pour lime into the fertilizer spreader and disperse the lime evenly over the rototilled soil. You will need 25 pounds of lime for every 1,000 square feet of soil, or 25 pounds of lime for each rototilled circle that has a radius of approximately 10 feet. The radius is the measurement from the base of the tree to the edge of the circle. This means you will need 25 pounds of lime for every large pine you are planting new grass under.
  4. Spread 3 pounds of grass seed evenly over a tilled circle with a radius of 10 feet.
  5. Spread 10 pounds of starter fertilizer or animal manure evenly over the seeds and then top with 100 pounds of potting soil to keep the birds away from the seeds.
  6. Water the area thoroughly, dampening at least 1 inch of soil. Water regularly to keep the top inch of soil moist for seven to ten days. If the weather is very hot or if there is a lot of wind, the soil may require watering two or more times per day for the first week.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep pine needles raked in order to prevent new acid from being added to the soil. Spread lime on the soil under each pine tree once per growing season.
  • Do not breathe lime dust.

About the Author

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has nearly five years' experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.